Campaign Finance, Corruption, and
the Oath of Office
• recognize the conflict of interest inherent in its writing campaign finance regulations, • reject proposals to further regulate campaign financing, • remove the current limits on campaign contributions, and • reduce opportunities for corruption by restoring constitutional limits on government.
Campaign finance reform bills have been a staple in Congress for several years now, yet Congress remains deeply and apparently irreconcilably divided over the issue. Many members want to expand the regulations now in place, constitutional principles notwithstanding. Others want to roll them back or eliminate them.
The intense congressional interest in the issue—substantially greater than the interest indicated by most Americans—should hardly surprise. For no other issue today affects members more directly—not taxes, not spending, not war or peace. Indeed, campaign finance law bears directly on the ability of members to remain in office. Not to put too fine a point on it, all the talk of good government aside, for many it is a matter of job security. Indeed, the high correlation between past campaign finance legislation and reelection rates is no accident, for the temptation to write the law to favor incumbents is palpable and inescapable. Only the Constitution and the Supreme Court have stood in the way of further regulations.
There, in stark relief, is the conflict of interest that every member of Congress faces when considering proposals to reform our campaign finance law. Arising out of the reformist zeal of the Watergate era, like the late Independent Counsel Statute, campaign finance regulation brings every member face to face with the problem of self-dealing—not only the self-